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Bucking the trend; BES invests in R&D despite the pandemic

There are wide spread concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic will leave a “lost generation” in its wake, with many young people not having the employment opportunities that they would have otherwise had. If this does turn out to be the case then it could be one of the greatest losses as a result of the pandemic. Putting this pessimism to one side, BES Healthcare, a local business in Bristol has been doing its part to try and support young and promising people.

This Summer, with University of West of England’s (UWE) support, BES took on two undergraduate students from UWE for a summer internship. This gave the two students, one studying occupational therapy and the other product design, an invaluable opportunity to get some “real world” experience to supplement their course, strengthen their CV, and earn some income.

This summer internship was partly funded by a grant from the university and partly by BES directly, demonstrating how education institutions and private enterprises can work effectively together to deliver valuable employment opportunities despite these challenging times.

Normally when a crisis hits the first things that businesses cut are marketing, R&D, and recruitment. This is an understandable knee jerk reaction; however, it severely compromises a company’s future success. BES bucked the trend this summer and the interns from UWE were taken on to conduct two R&D projects – one to develop PPE for people living with disabilities, and the other to develop the company’s existing specialist seating range for children with disabilities. Along the way BES provided an educational programme covering various aspects of specialist seating and positioning theory, and insights into infection prevention, and the world of international standards and regulations that govern these markets.

Some might think “well it is fine for you as a healthcare business”, sadly not all is at it seems. Certainly, some areas of healthcare have been protected or even boosted by the pandemic, however this isn’t the case across the piece. BES has seen significant drop offs in business as the NHS has pulled resources into treating COVID patients, and with service users reluctant to return to healthcare settings for routine treatments and therapies. Like so many other businesses we have had to rely on various forms of government support to stay afloat, but this hasn’t meant we can’t simultaneously invest in our future and that of other people.

It was a challenge for both the company and the interns to work effectively under social distancing restrictions, but solutions could always be found whether it be through video conferencing technology, file sharing and collaboration software, and carefully controlled meet ups. It also required some out-off-box thinking to overcome various constraints, for instance we had to keep up production and dispatch but at the same time allow access to our products and facilities.

BES is very proud to have been able to offer this internship opportunity at such a difficult time with the support of the university. The interns will take valuable learnings from the experience and be able to strengthen their CVs, which should serve them well when they graduate. BES has benefited from new product designs that have resulted from the interns’ work and will be taking these into production in the future. This in turn should benefit multiple users of this equipment in the future.

Bucking the trend; BES invests in R&D despite the pandemic

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